‘Drone’ That Hit Plane in London May Have Just Been a Plastic Bag

A few days ago it was reported that a drone may have hit a British Airways jet flying out of Heathrow. The transport minister Robert Goodwill has yet to confirm if that’s the case, saying that it could have just been a plastic bag.

The incident is believed to have occurred at around 1,700 ft, over four times the legal limit for people who want to fly their drones in the open air and while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the incident alongside the Metropolitan Police there has been little in the way of information released to the public.

Goodwill did respond to comments regarding “geo-fencing”, a technique where drones would be blocked from entering restricted areas by means of having ‘no go zones’ installed on their devices by the manufacturers. Goodwill didn’t show great promise or belief in that option as he said it would be vulnerable to “somebody who could get round the software”.

With people speculating that the plane struck a drone, a thought that has occurred many times before and almost happened on several occasions, Goodwill did say that it “has not been confirmed it was actually a drone”, instead saying that the original story came from a local police force who tweeted the news about a reported drone colliding with a plane. “There was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”, the latest news seems to be that if it was a drone or unmanned electronic device, they don’t even know what it could have been.

Going on to explain the current information, Goodwill explained that “there was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”.

So no confirmed Drone could mean that people are overreacting to what has been a nightmare scenario for many groups for a while now, with incidents involving everything from illegally flying their drones during major events to even crashing into famous landmarks.

Kanye West Being Sued Over Promises of Tidal Exclusive Album

Kanye West is not a new face when it comes to news and digital issues, with his latest album, the life of Pablo, pirated over half a million times while it was still an exclusive at Tidal. The problem for many was that Kanye had offered the album as an exclusive for Tidal, the online streaming service that he has invested in. The so-called exclusive has now led to Kayne West being sued over promises that it would be a Tidal exclusive album, promises that didn’t last very long.

Justin Baker-Rhett is a fan of musician Kanye West, but he is now at the center of a lawsuit targeted towards both Kanye West and S.Carter Enterprises (SCE), the company that owns the Tidal music streaming service.

The lawsuit alleges that the rapper mislead his fans into buying and supporting the streaming service by falsely promising that his album, the Life of Pablo, would only ever be available on Tidal. A month and a half later the album appeared on both Apple Music and Spotify, leading many to believe that his claims about the album being an exclusive were nothing more than false advertising to boost Tidal’s falling sales figures.

Tidal promises greater control and royalties to those that use it to share their music so it’s hard to see West’s tweet as nothing more than an attempt to get people to buy in and listen to it on the platform before realising that he might not get the following on Tidal, whose subscription numbers are reported to have jumped from 1 million to 3 million following the announcement.

Uber & Lyft Drivers Will Need Business Permits in San Francisco

When it comes to “ridesharing” apps like Uber and Lyft, the law has been slow to catch up on the latest app-driven taxi scheme. Debating if they are consultants or employees, cities have been torn apart as Taxi drivers argue that they use loopholes to avoid extra charges that Taxis have to pay. This may change thanks to San Francisco now requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to own a business permit if they want to keep working within the city.

City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has apparently sent out 37,018 letters to drivers within the city to let them know about the new requirement, ultimately forcing Uber and Lyft to either recognise their drivers as staff or get business permits and act as contractors. With each permit costing only $91 a year (if you make less than $100,00 a year) then the funding coming in from the new requirement comes to around $3.37 million a year!

Uber responded in a statement to SFGate saying that as its drivers were independent contracts they were “responsible for following appropriate local requirements” while Lyfts spokesperson Chelsea Wilson was less than candid in saying that their company opposed thew new plans, saying that the company has “serious concerns with the city’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database”.

FAA Rule It a Federal Crime to Shoot Down a Drone

Almost a year ago now William H Meredith noticed a drone flying above his property, so with his shotgun, he removed it from the sky. This raised an interesting legal debate, given the drone was above his property at the time it was shot down, was it wrong of him to shoot it down or was the drone user invading his privacy? The FAA have now revealed the answer, saying it is a federal crime to shoot down a drone.

Meredith defended his actions saying that not only was the drone invading his privacy but that of his two daughters in his garden. David Boggs, the drones owner, however, states that he was flying the drone to take pictures of a friend’s house and even sued Meredith for the cost of the drone and then some.

Due to the FAA’s latest drone registry scheme, drones are deemed as aircraft, the same as any manned aircraft in the air. As a result, the FAA responded to a question confirming that shooting down a drone is a federal crime, citing 18 U.S.C. 32 titled Aircraft Sabotage. This escalates to the point where if you are deemed to be interfering with someone who is “engaged in the authorised operation of such aircraft” you could find yourself facing anywhere between five and twenty years in prison.

While no one has yet to be charged for this act, many drones have been shut down and people are now wondering where can you draw the line? Given that specialist task forces are being formed to deal with the threat of drones, both on people and on manned aircraft, is it ever justified to defend yourself from the threat of a drone?

Ark: Survival Evolved Lawsuit Has Been Settled

Who doesn’t love building a base? Well, when it comes to building a base having some help from your tribe sure comes in handy, even more so when they bring a T-rex to help keep you safe while you finish your little hut. Ark: Survival Evolved allows players to enjoy this amongst so much more, but the future of the game was brought into question when its origins were questioned in a lawsuit, don’t worry through because the lawsuit has now been settled.

The final word was said on the 13th of April 2016 according to the documents both parties involved filed, saying that they had finalised a “written settlement agreement”. The parties involved are Wildcard, the creators behind Ark: Survival Evolved and Trendy, the creators of the popular co-op game, Dungeon Defenders.

Earlier in the week Susan Stieglitz, wife to Jeremy Stieglitz, the man at the core of the lawsuit, posted the following hinting at the sum that Trendy were after.

https://twitter.com/SusanCStieglitz/status/719987095796711424

In a Reddit post there appears to be an image capturing a conversation in which Susan Claire Stieglitz states that “we ended up settling for 40”. With no confirmation and the details not being publicly released, there isn’t any hard evidence to talk about the outcome of the lawsuit expect speculation and the fact that it has in fact ended. With Ark: Survival Evolved still marked as early access on Steam, losing out on any income (especially something as large as 40 million), the game is sure to feel the impact and people will want to know if they have had to pay this money rather than towards developing an outstandingly exciting game.

Apple & FBI Heading Back to Congress to Debate Encryption

When Apple and the FBI first appeared in front of congress the debate was if Apple could be ordered to unlock an iPhone, and if so should they then create a method where they could easily access future devices for law enforcement? While the case revolving around the San Bernardino phone is over, with the FBI gaining access with help from an external group, the debate is still far from over with both the FBI and Apple looking to appear before a congressional committee to debate encryption yet again.

The debate over encryption will see several people join the committee as witnesses, including Bruce Sewell (General Counsel, Apple Inc), Amy Hess (Executive Assistance Directory for Science and Technology, FBI) and Amit Yoran (President, RSA Security). Other witnesses include Ron Hickman representing the National Sheriffs Association and two police officers, Captain Charles Cohen and Chief Thomas Galati (Indiana state police and New York City Police respectively). With two university representatives Daniel Weitzner (MIT) and Matthew Blaze (University of Pennsylvania) appearing as well, it would appear that congress want to hear the debate from research, implementation and law enforcements points of views in an attempt to fully understand the debate that is raging on in countries all over the world about privacy vs protection.

With countries all over looking to this court case as an example of how technology has advanced while the law remains unclear, the congressional hearing could have a big impact on companies throughout America. The hearing will take place on April 19th and will be streamed on their site for ease of access.

Paypal Cancelled Hiring Hundreds of Staff in North Carolina Over New Law

When you vote in a new law, you should be careful just how much it will impact people. PayPal is well aware of this and in light of a new law in North Carolina, PayPal has cancelled the hiring of 400 people in protest a law that has just been passed in the state.

The new law was passed a few weeks ago and saw it discriminate against transgender people, forcing them to follow their “biological sex”. The new bill doesn’t stop there though with it stating that any local laws concerning employee rights and nondiscrimination practises are superseded by the state law alongside the fact that people cannot bring “any civil action” against the state for their new actions and that it is not considered discrimination to limit someone to a bathroom based on their biological sex.

While this law has caught the anger of many people and now PayPal has said enough is enough. CEO Dan Shulman says in a statement from the company that:

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.  As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

Not only does Shulman go on to say “everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable”. Furthermore, Shulman states that not only will they now seek a new location for their office but they will “remain committed to working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn this discriminatory legislation”.

PayPal is just one of many companies and even governments and agencies that are taking part in the action to get this law overturned, something that should never have been allowed through in the first place for many. With a large company like PayPal taking action like this and the new law getting the attention of the white house, we can only hope that the law is overturned as soon as possible.

Apple Could Be Fined Millions for Strict iPhone Marketing Contract

Did you ever look at a phone provider catalogue and think, where have I seen that advert before? If the phone in question is an iPhone then you may have noticed its prominent placement in the catalogue along with the near identical adverts in every single catalogue. There is a reason for this other than just marketing, and could get Apple fined up to €48.5 million for their strict iPhone marketing terms.

France’s country competition regulators have launched a complaint regarding Apple’s agreements, stating that they are actually illegal. Part of the terms and conditions is that carriers have to order a minimum number of iPhones, cover the cost of repairs for some of the phones and even pay for the ad’s used (including those used for in-store displays).

If this wasn’t enough Apple gains several legal benefits, such as being able to access and use some of the carriers patents and even use their branding as they see fit. The contract also allows Apple to void the contract without any prior notice, something that would scare anyone selling thousands of euros worth of equipment.

With Apple looking at renewable energy for their facilities, they may want to rethink their strategy when it comes to selling their devices as even if this court case is just in France, other countries may follow suit and start looking at stocking alternative products because of the contract they are being forced to sign.

iPhone Unlocked By Fingerprint Because Of A Warrant From The LAPD

While we were so focused on the Apple Vs FBI court battle that was going on, it would seem that the FBI were up to their usual tricks. I refer to the first known case where a user was made to unlock their iPhone by fingerprint because of a warrant.

The court case was overseen by a Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge who agreed that David Charles Baust could not be forced to hand over his iPhones passcode. The judge did say he could be compelled to supply his biometric information to unlock the device, though, a measure that seems very similar in its outcome.

The warrant issued allowed an LAPD agent to visit the premises of Baust and a Paytsar Bkchadzhyan and acquire a fingerprint for the purposes of unlocking the iPhone, a trick that can be mimicked with something as simple as Play-Doh. The warrant contains the line “Law enforcement personnel are authorized to depress the fingerprints and/or thumbprints of the person covered by this warrant onto the Touch ID sensor of the Apple iPhone seized… on 25 February”. The inventory of the property taken in the search doesn’t even help narrow down what they searched for, as they state “PAYTSAR BKCHADZHYAN – FINGERPRINT ON IPHONE DEVICE”, a rather ambiguous term when keeping track of something.

The fingerprint didn’t help as after 48 hours of not unlocking your iPhone with touch ID requires that you enter your passcode anyway, a piece of information that the Judge had already ruled out being forced from the suspect.

This could have repercussions, such as in the case where a person from England is being asked to unlock his device over a case that could see him tried in America, where you could be seen as providing evidence against yourself by providing something like your biometric information or passwords. These are all protected in America under the fifth amendment, the right to not incriminate yourself.

The FBI Are Already Helping Others Unlock iPhones

In the recent Apple vs the FBI case, the concern was raised about what would happen if the FBI managed to get Apple to unlock the device. People were worried that this one high-profile phone could open the floodgates to requests to unlock the hundreds of iPhones that are in police custody. Initially, we were told that this wouldn’t be the case but as events unfolded this clarification seemed to fade away and we were left with the answer we had expected from the start, an answer that seems to be confirmed by the FBI already helping others unlock iPhones.

In a letter to local authorities, the FBI promise that “we are in this together” and that they would help local authorities unlock iPhones and even iPods where they can legally. In fact, they already have, in a case for Arkansas prosecutors, the FBI have already agreed to unlock both an iPhone and an iPod.

It doesn’t stop there, according to the Washington post, the FBI are looking at if it would be possible to share the tool with local law enforcement. With the firm that helped the FBI create the tool charging only a one-time flat fee, the FBI could offer the tool as long as it retains its classified tool, an issue which has already hampered and raised issues with devices such as the Stingray.

The full letter can be found below courtesy of Buzzfeed:

Since recovering an iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters on December 3, 2015, the FBI sought methods to gain access to the data stored on it. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention generated by the litigation with Apple, others outside the U.S. government continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research. In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone. That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.

We know that the absence of lawful, critical investigative tools due to the “Going Dark” problem is a substantial state and local law enforcement challenge that you face daily. As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners. Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. You have our commitment that we will maintain an open dialogue with you. We are in this together.

Kerry Sleeper
Assistant Director
Office of Partner Engagement
FBI

To Play With The Oculus Rift You Pay With Your Privacy

We all love the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality, the idea that technology can send us to the deepest parts of the earth or the farthest reaches of space inspires us to enjoy things we will never get to do in the real world, all from the comfort of our sitting rooms. The question is how much we are willing to give in exchange for this “freedom”, with the enjoyment the Oculus Rift requiring you to pay with your privacy.

What do we mean by “pay with your privacy”? When you first install the software required to run the Rift on your PC a process called “OVRServer_x64.exe” is created, something normal given that it detects when the Rift is connected, on your Facebook and actually turned on. If you check the Privacy Policy (something we all know, including the companies that write them, is rarely checked) there are a few other things that the process can do.

The full section regarding “information collected about you when you use our services” states:

Information Automatically Collected About You When You Use Our Services. We also collect information automatically when you use our Services. Depending on how you access and use our Services, we may collect information such as:

  • Information about your interactions with our Services, like information about the games, content, apps or other experiences you interact with, and information collected in or through cookies, local storage, pixels, and similar technologies (additional information about these technologies is available at https://www.oculus.com/en-us/cookies-pixels-and-other-technologies/);
  • Information about how you access our Services, including information about the type of device you’re using (such as a headset, PC, or mobile device), your browser or operating system, your Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, and certain device identifiers that may be unique to your device;
  • Information about the games, content, or other apps installed on your device or provided through our Services, including from third parties;
  • Location information, which can be derived from information such as your device’s IP address. If you’re using a mobile device, we may collect information about the device’s precise location, which is derived from sources such as the device’s GPS signal and information about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers; and
  • Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.

Worrying parts about this is the mention of “pixels” in the first section, stating that they could find out what you are viewing and even go so far as to take a copy of your interaction. Full information about the games and everything you install are also fair and open to them with information going so far as your physical movements and dimensions being tracked as well, these seem a little bit further than just idle curiosity.

The policy continues to state how this information is used, with one section clarifying their marketing approach with this information:

To market to you. We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services. We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.

With Oculus now in partnership with Facebook, a move that raised concerns when it was first announced, people were concerned about privacy and tracking, something these conditions seems to allow. Going further the agreement states that “third parties may also collect information about you through the Services”, meaning that the agreement doesn’t limit but, in fact, allows apps to be created on the basis of tracking and monitoring your actions.

Thanks to Woofington over at Reddit who spotted this, if you’re interested in finding out how deep this goes you can read the full privacy policy here.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

Apple Vs The FBI is Over!

The legal case of the year is over already. Apple vs the FBI is over in a court case that saw the question of security vs privacy raised on a national, and even global, level. After cancelling a court hearing with Apple, the FBI have officially closed the court case.

It would seem that even without their assistance, the FBI claim to have managed to break into and access the data required on the iPhone in question. In their response, the FBI stated that the new hack was “sufficiently plausible” to a point where they could stop pursuing Apple’s assistance.

Currently, there is no information about who performed the hack or how many iPhones the hack works against. With so little information about the hack, it’s hard to tell if the court case could reemerge in the future with over a hundred phones in government control still locked.

In their response the Department of Justice reminded us that they would continue to gather information from encrypted devices, saying that “It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety”, and then there is a small reminder that with or without help, “either with cooperation from relevant parties or through the court system”.

Valve Found Guilty of Breaking Australian Consumer Law

Valve is known for creating the popular digital sales platform Steam, which does everything hardware to regular sales on video games. One thing they’ve been keen to improve on for a while has been their refund policy, something which saw the original policy replaced with one that could offer full refunds to people who purchased a game on the platform. The problem is that the original policy wasn’t in place when the court case against Valve was raised, a case which has now ended with Valve being found guilty of breaking Consumer Law in Australia.

In the court case, that was started back in 2014 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Valve was taken to court because it lacked a refund policy, something that is required by Australian consumer law. In their defence they stated that it doesn’t “officially” conduct business, instead offering a portal to video games through clients.

Overlooking the case, Justice Edelman stated that Valve was doing business in Australia and must, therefore, follow Australian law. This is the first time that the term “goods” has been applied to computer software in Australia, something that is bound to have far-reaching impacts in Australia in regards to their legal statement.

With a hearing set for the 15th April to see how much Valve will have to pay in “relief”, including the likely outcome that they will pay the ACCC’s legal fees, it would seem that initial attempts to resolve this matter and follow the law will still cost the company.

New Bill Being Proposed in California to Combat Burner Phones

Technology and the law are constantly racing, with each one taking steps to catch up with the other. From the arguments Apple and the FBI are having regarding privacy and encryption to something as simple as Segways being illegal in public, technology is creating new gadgets and systems and the law is creating laws to either change or catch up with the issue. An issue that has long plagued law and the courts is burner phones, but a new bill in California could change that.

Burner phones follow a simple concept, you pay for them and the credit you need to use them. Once they are finished with, you can either dispose or top up the phone. Due to the throwaway nature, they are used by people with stuff to hide, with it recently being revealed that the terrorists who attacked Paris used burner phones not encryption to avoid detection.

The new bill, dubbed the “Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act Of 2016″ would require anyone who sells prepaid devices to register and record the identity of those who purchased the phone. The specifics are the customer would be required to provide a credit card, social security number or driving license number, the same requirements people are required to provide for mobile contracts.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California is the one proposing the bill and states that the ” bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery”.

Feds Tell Court Apple Creates Technology To Thwart iPhone Warrants

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently working with the FBI in a legal battle against technology giant Apple. After being told to help unlock an iPhone through a software modification, the company began to argue that they could not be made to bypass their own security features by use of an All Writs Act. The DOJ have now filed fresh claims that specifically say that Apple is creating technology to thwart iPhone warrants.

The Department of Justice filed a brief on Thursday stating that Apple had created technology to render search warrants useless because of a “deliberate marketing decision”. The result of this decision is the current legal battle between the FBI and Apple and the questions being asked in congress regarding privacy vs security.

The brief carries on to that the use of the All Writs Act ensures “that their lawful warrants were not thwarted by third parties like Apple”. The brief continues to say:

Apple deliberately raised technological barriers that now stand between a lawful warrant and an iPhone containing evidence related to the terrorist mass murder of 14 Americans. Apple alone can remove those barriers so that the FBI can search the phone, and it can do so without undue burden. Under those specific circumstances, Apple can be compelled to give aid. That is not lawless tyranny. Rather, it is ordered liberty vindicating the rule of law.

Given that it’s been pointed out by several other people could also hack the iPhone, and while they claim it could be done without undue burden (an argument Apple has used to say that it won’t do it because of the impact it would have on their business), we have already been told that there are hundreds of iPhones in criminal cases which the FBI “could” want to be unlocked. Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest filing

Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest information about a topic which seems to escalate with every passing day.

https://twitter.com/JZdziarski/status/708059202107928577?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/agcrocker/status/708034792026050561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Snowden Speaks Out Regarding FBI’s Claim It Needs Apple To Unlock iPhone

Apple is currently under a lot of pressure from the US government, with the FBI looking to “request” their help in unlocking an iPhone. The problem people find is that the FBI are requesting Apple do something that Apple are not comfortable with, and as a result, have been ordered to do so under a very old and rather vague act. One of the most famous faces regarding the US Governments digital behaviour,  Edward Snowden, has now spoken out regarding the FBI’s claim it needs Apple to unlock the iPhone in question.

Speaking at a Conference via Video chat, Snowden stated the while the FBI say they need Apple’s ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the iPhone in question, he believes that claim is nothing more than lies.

The reason he says the FBI’s claim is rubbish is simply because several people have come forward with alternative methods for the FBI to gain access to the phone. It should be noted that Apple has already said they would have handed over the data if the FBI hadn’t tried to reset the iCloud password for the iPhone.

With the alternative methods not being mentioned at the congressional hearing regarding the FBI’s case for bypassing Apple’s security features, it would appear to many that the FBI are looking for a precedent to force companies to unlock their devices, something which they originally stated would not happen (but now appears to be the case).

You can view the conversation on surveillance, democracy and civil society in which Snowden spoke below.

Sony Hands Out Free Game Codes To Compensate For 2011 Hack

A few years ago Sony had a rather bad hack, which affected around 70 million of their customers. In the wake of the hack, Sony offered to renew its efforts to increase security alongside some gifts to appease players who suffered during the 23-day outage. As of March 2nd, you may find that the promised free game codes have finally arrived.

Depending on the services you were signed up to when the hack happened (PlayStation Network, Qriocity and Sony Online Entertainment), you can claim a variety of rewards. As part of Sony’s initial scheme people were offered to grab a game, but don’t worry if you didn’t manage to grab one all the time back then, you can grab two now.

The games available vary based on which of the available platforms you wish to collect your reward for, with the Playstation 3, Vita and PSP all being offered free rewards as a sorry. If you want to grab a game you can now get inFamous, LittleBigPlanet and even the God Of War HD Collection for free but they will be limited to the aforementioned consoles.

With the lawsuit spawning this reward scheme valued at $2.75 million, Sony must be happy that they can get away with a few free games or even a little account credit or PSN time almost five years since the hack began the security awareness that so many companies are still suffering from.

Former Heads of NSA & Homeland Support Apple In Encryption Battle

In its recent arguments against the FBI, Apple has found companies rallying behind its arguments that you can’t force a company to break its own protection without risking others. Even Microsoft have come out saying that forcing Apple to do so would set a dangerous precedent for technology companies everywhere. Their latest support is a little bit different, with the former heads of the NSA and Homeland supporting encryption in this case.

Michael Chertoff was the head of Homeland Security and is one of the people who helped author the Patriot Act. Mike McConnell is the former head of the NSA and both of these people, former professionals within governments security sector, have come forward expressing support for encryption technologies.

In a panel, Chertoff stated that “if we [the people and governments] ask private sector to be in control of security, then we have to allow them to have tools to carry out that mission”. Chertoff then continued to say that trust is the fundamental basis of the “internet economic engine” and that “if we don’t come to an agreement with the majority of the world [around privacy] we could end up with multiple internets and lose the value of an interconnected world”.

McConnell on the other hand, suggested that a reasonable method to address the problem wouldn’t be the public flinging match that the FBI are keen to use to their advantage but instead to form “a legislatively direction commission of leading experts to have an informed dialog with all clearances to make reasonable recommendations”. He suggests that the public and even Congress don’t have the knowledge regarding cyber security matters to make an informed decision and that public opinions and fear could lead to decisions which will do nothing but harm companies government and people alike.

Apple Told All Writs Act Can’t Force Them To Unlock iPhone

Recently Apple has been involved in court battle after court battle, with the largest battle being the San Bernardino case against the FBI. In the case, the FBI are looking to use an 18th-century law, the All Writs Act, to get Apple to create some software  that would let them get passed the passcode. In a similar case, a judge has just made a ruling, something that makes it look like Apple may win their legal battle against the FBI.

In the case, the Drug Enforcement Agency had seized an iPhone and were looking to use the All Writs Act to unlock the iPhone, an iPhone 5. Just like in the San Bernardino case, Apple objected and argued that there are nine cases (now eleven) where the government are looking to gain access to iPhones.

Judge Orenstein looked at previous court decision and found that under the rule of three the All Writs Act couldn’t be applied. One of the rules for applying the All Writs Act was if the person/group had a connection to the case. In this instance, the judge decided that Apple, who are a private party with no connection the criminal activity, couldn’t be made to perform work against their will by the All Writs Act.

Judge Orenstein also warned against the use of the All Writs Act to create a precedent that would mean that companies like Apple would have to fulfill the government wishes, something the FBI are not looking for.

This could be the case Apple need to finally say to the FBI that their rights, and their company, can’t be forced to work for a cause that they have no link to. Given Apple’s response relied heavily on their amendment rights, it will be interesting to see how the FBI responds to this ruling.

Dentist Tried to out YouTube Critic but Will Instead Pay Legal Fees

We all judge people, and some of us dislike people for something as simple as their job. A popular profession to be hated for being is a dentist, a profession sometimes accredited with just being there for you to inflict pain on your patients. Well in a legal case in Georgia, America a dentist has gone to court to try out a YouTuber who uploaded an investigation into the dentist that was aired by an Atlanta-area television station.

The original indictment was published in 2009 which stated, among other things, that Austin beat several patients. The assault charges, whose victims included children, was dropped as part of a plea deal after pleading guilty to six counts of Medicare fraud. The assault charges relate to when a patient would cry out or moan during a procedure (something we’ve all done when that sharp metal tool stabs into your gums), Gordan Trent Austin would tell the patient to stop making noise, only to reinforce the message if they didn’t obey with a quick strike from a dental instrument.

With the original video released in 2009, it was only back in 2015 that Austin filed a lawsuit in an attempt to sue the Youtuber for defamation, this lawsuit included a subpoena to google to identify the Youtubers identifier. Public Citizen didn’t like this though and filed a motion arguing that not only was there no case for defamation but that the statute of limitations had elapsed, so even if there was it was too late.

The hearing was scheduled to take place on Tuesday but a week before it went to court, Austin’s lawyers agreed to not only drop the case but pay $12,000 in attorneys’ fees to Public Citizen.

We’ve seen a lot of cases like this where someone seems to go to court on the off-chance that they could benefit, among them are a LARPing website being sued for “infringing patents” by importing products and the Onewheel creators who dropped their case against China-based rivals only weeks before it goes to court.

LARPing Company Sued Then Silenced

In the past, there have been cases where people have attempted to use the law to manipulate and control people’s choices. From the recent case of the hoverboard company raided at CES only to then have the case dropped before it appeared at court, we can see that some companies may be using the very same law we rely on to protect us against their competitors. This was something Jordan Gwyther found out the hard way when he opened up the website Larping.org.

Larping, short for live-action role playing, is an event where people dress up to a theme and act out battles or events in character. From a medieval village (with modern day toilets) to a battle scene between elves and knights, larping is enjoyed by hundreds. Gwyther founded larping.org to act as a communications hub for larping fans everywhere, with the ability to talk to other LARPers and find events the site proved popular. Gwyther started to use the site to sell popular items amongst LARPers, such as armour or latex/foam weapons.

In order to sell the foam arrows, Gwyther imports them from a german company, selling them on in the U.S. for just over $2,000. That was until Global Archery, an Indiana-based company who also sell foam arrows under the name Archery tag, decided to sue Gwyther for patent and trademark infringement.

Gwyther went to court only to find that Global Archery bragged about having a $150,000 budget for the litigation, a fund that father of two Gwyther could not match without help. In order to combat the lawsuit, Gwyther started up a GoFundMe campaign titled “Save LARP Archery”. Seems this didn’t go down too well either as Global Archery have now requested that his pleas for help be silenced in the form of a restraining order.

The restraining order states that Gwyther would have to “cease issuing any press releases, advertisements, letters, promotional materials, articles, and oral or other written statements including posts on social media sites such as Gofundme, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, that falsely… imply that this action was initiated and is being prosecuted to interfere with the general public’s ability to engage in live action role playing (LARP)”. The reason for this clause is that in his video for the GoFundMe Campaign, Gwyther explains that if the lawsuit is accepted, foam arrows sold by distributors in the U.S. could be stopped by everyone but resellers of Global Archery’s products.

The end result has been that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has become involved. Known for protecting people;s rights when it comes to the law and technology, the EFF have come forward saying that “the first amendment guarantees that even patent owners are subject to the slings and arrows of public criticism”.

Hoverboard Company Backs Down After Rivals Raided At CES 2016

Trends come and go, from the latest phone to the newest console people often buy and then upgrade their technology a few months later. A few years ago the world was caught in a segway craze, with users riding around work and towns to doing rallies through woodland on the machines, but these were shortly replaced by their handleless “hoverboard” siblings. Sadly as with all crazes and trends, everyone wants a piece of the action. The hoverboard boom has led to more than a few recalls due to dangerous products, and even injuries. With cheap models being created all over the world, a US company decided to fight to protect their product at CES this year, a fight which the Chinese company has now backed out from.

Earlier this year at CES companies was showing off all kinds of technology, but Future Motion had their eye drawn only to one stall. Changzhou First International Trade Co had a stall set up demonstrating their version of Future Motions “hoverboard”. The design features a single wheel located in the middle of the device, as shown in the image above. Future Motion went to court and against no opposition asked the judge to issue a restraining order on the products sales. The hearing lasted a grand total of 7 minutes and at the end, the temporary restraining order was issued resulting in a raid on the booth at CES.

Future Motion has now dropped the case, which was set to be heard on the 19th February. Changzhou isn’t too happy though and is looking to recover the legal fees it’s had to pay to its lawyers. Their lawyer has released a statement saying that the “sole purpose of FM [Future Motion]’s TRO was to deprive its chief competitor Changzhou of its lawful right to display Changzhou’s Trotter product at the Consumer Electronics show (CES)”.

This definitely looks bad for Future Motion, who seem to have dropped the case in the hopes of it all fading away, with their actions seeming to back Changzhou’s evaluation that it was nothing more than a move to block competition.

Judge Rules That FBI Tor Hack Must Be Revealed to Lawyer

FBI this, FBI that. It would seem that the FBI just can’t help but keep out of the news these days with Apple Vs the FBI seeming to turn companies against the government, but this is not the only case where the FBI is having trouble. The other case is when they were able to hack over 1,000 computers on the infamous Tor network, leading to a series of convictions. The Judge presiding over the case has now stated that the defence lawyer should be provided with the code used to hack their computers.

Colin Fieman is the federal public defender working on the case and has requested that they are given access to a copy of the code used to identify his client. In a response to Motherboard, Fieman stated that the code would include “everything”, including the methods used to bypass security features of the Tor Browser.

Vlad Tsyrklevith is the defence’s consulted expert on code and he has since received the “code” used, but it seems that the FBI were holding out with several key elements missing from the code. This included the exploit used to break into the defendant’s computer, a key feature that should be provided in the case with the agreement that “subject to the terms of the protective order currently in place” they would have access to the code used to identify and potentially, charge, the defendant.

It would seem the FBI can’t stop getting caught short, with this case drawing criticism because of the use of a single warrant to hack an unknown number of computers located around the world. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the FBI hadn’t kept the site which contained illegal materials online, effectively meaning that the FBI were distributing the same thing they are now prosecuting people for.

Apple To Fight Government On Creating iPhone Backdoor

We reported earlier that Apple had been ordered to not unlock a phone, something they have constantly stated they could not do, but instead create the means for the government to access it. It would seem Apple were as happy to hear about this as we were and are looking to fight them about creating a backdoor into their iPhones.

In our story so far, Apple are not unknown for facing court trials that have tried to make them unlock an iPhone, even after cases have ended. The latest court case tried to do just that, but instead of asking for a way to the phone, Judge Sheri Pym has used the All Writs Act to demand that Apple creates a backdoor to enable the FBI to unlock the iPhone in a court case. The All Writs Act is an 18th-century piece of legislation which says if the government asks you to jump, you jump.

In Tom Cook’s letter to their customers, he clearly expresses what they are asking for and why he believes it is outrageous that they can do this. Before we see his response though the following extract from the court order shows just what they are requesting.

“Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.”

What they end up saying is that Apple will have to remove the passcodes that protect the iPhone, enabling the FBI to try every single passcode possible. This is often known as a “brute force hack”, a method where every possible combination is used in order to try gain access to something, similar to how you could spin the dials on a combination lock to open up your luggage on holiday.

Tom Cook’s understanding of it is that the FBI want them to create a new version of their iOS for the phone, bypassing all their security features when it was installed on to the phone. While they say it will only be used in this one case, Cook explains that this cannot be guaranteed and would only seek to put more iPhones at risk.

With the request essentially being an order it’s being called a “frightful precedent” that a judge could request the removal of key security features. Given their history with hacking, it may come as no surprise that people aren’t too keen to give the keys to the kingdom to government agencies.

Apple Ordered To Unlock iPhone

Apple is known for their court battles, after having the latest revelation reveal an agreement with Google. One of the things Apple is keen to go to court for is the encryption on smartphones, and they have now been told they must help unlock an iPhone by a judge.

The iPhone in question is a 5C running iOS9, it belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who attacked an office party in December 2015 in a terrorist attack. The judge presiding over the case,  Sheri Pym, cited the all writs act and ordered Apple to provide the FBI with a custom firmware file that will enable them to brute force the passcode lockout that is currently on the phone.

Since iOS 8, Apple has made it so that it enabled full encryption by default, meaning that the company cannot be forced to extract data or grant access. Likewise, it is not the first time that the all writs act has come out in court against Apple. The 18th-century act makes it that a company or person must assist the government in that way, and is seen as a dangerous precedent for the future. After being asked for what is essentially custom software to disable the protection on a smartphone, what’s to stop Facebook or other companies being forced to provide agencies with access? There is no point in security if it only applies to certain people while others can keep trying over and over again without any risk of alerting or being locked out an account.

This is a scary way around the “we can unlock this device” answer, and if using an 18th-century act in such a way is allowed, then anyone could be “ordered” to provide back doors or restrict security measures so that their protection can be forced open.

Camera Attached To A Utility Poll Used To Spy On Suspects

While they work to enforce the law, recently they have come into conflicts with it when technology was used in new ways. From the use of mobile interception technologies, like the Stingray, to the watching people’s online activity. In a recent court appeal, a new tactic was revealed, a Webcam attached to a utility pole being used to spy on suspects.

Roane County Sheriff’s Office arrested Rocky Houston, a known felon, for possession of a firearm. ATF agents installed a remote-controlled camera to a utility pole around 200 yards away from Houstons farm, all without a warrant. Normally required to install surveillance technology such as cameras or phone taps, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that Houstons conviction will remain in place as “no reasonable expectation of privacy” was present in the video footage. The reason for this ruling is that as the camera was placed on a public utility pole and only captured what could have seen by a passerby, the images it took would not be considered an invasion of privacy and wouldn’t require a warrant to be legally admissible.

The camera was located on the pole for a grand total of 10 weeks. With such as a short time frame, the observations were not considered unconstitutional.

Judge Thomas Rose, while believing that even if the surveillance was in breach, said that the video evidence would have been permitted, although due to the probable cause they could have gotten a warrant.